- Why did you write Chemical Leak?
I wanted to write a book about girls and boys in Australia having fun and having adventures. I like to encourage young people to get out and do things on their own, not always be stuck in front of a computer or TV set and not always being organised by after-school commitments.
- Are these books about Altona?
I call the suburb “Portside” but it’s very like Altona. It’s full of people from all different parts of the world who live and work together. Their children go to school together and they usually manage to be friends. Sometimes there are problems but the characters I write about have to learn how to deal with them.
- Where is Altona?
It’s a suburb west of Melbourne, just over the Westgate Bridge. It is on the seafront and has sandy and rocky beaches. It also has factories, schools, parks, a big lake, libraries, all the usual things you’ll find in a large city.
- Why don’t you call it Altona in the books?
Because, if it’s a fictitious place, I can put streets and factories and houses where I like. If I tried to write about a real place, I’d be stuck with the way it really is and maybe things would be too far away from where I want them to be.
- Why did you write about abalone in Sea Secrets?
If you look at Chemical Leak! and Sea Secrets, you’ll see that they both have concerns about the environment. I’m mainly writing adventure stories but I also want to make my readers aware of how they can help to keep their world clean and safe. Abalone are an “endangered species” and I’m concerned about that sort of thing.
- How did you find out about abalone?
I grew up in Williamstown and spent a lot of my childhood at the beach – in the water and playing on the rocks. We used to collect abalone from the rocks just off shore and cook and eat them. Then, they became scarce because too many people were taking too many. When I moved to Altona, there were police raids on abalone poachers at the boat ramp just down the road from my house. So it seemed like a perfect subject for adventure and danger.
- Do you go snorkelling?
Yes, I do – every summer. While I was researching for Sea Secrets, I went out in a boat and snorkelled on a reef off Altona. Then I could write about it properly.
- Why didn’t you write about the Great Barrier Reef?
People think the Great Barrier Reef is the only place to see colourful fish and coral and I have snorkelled there too but right on my doorstep I have seen as much colour and variety as I have seen up north. Port Phillip Bay is full of beautiful and amazing life: plants, sponges, fish, shellfish, sea horses, crabs, and much more.
Images © Seapics
- Why are abalone so valuable?
They are regarded as a very special delicacy in Japan and other eastern countries. Southern Australia has the last wild stocks of abalone in the world. All the other countries have been ’fished out’ – that is, there are none, or very few left in places like California, South Africa, and other countries that used to have plenty.
- Have you seen abalone poachers?
From a distance, yes, I have. But because there is very big money involved, it’s wise to stay right away from anyone you suspect might be doing something illegal.
- Are you writing another book?
Yes, I have one about half finished.
- Is it about Zena, too?
Yes, and because I’ve moved to the country to live, I want to write about this area. So Sean’s father is being sent to the country to work and Zena and the others come to stay for a few days in the holidays. I don’t know what their adventure will be yet.
If you have any other questions, you can send it to me at: gwadds (at) gillianmwadds.com.au, and I’ll try to answer you as soon as possible.